Aggressive Prices Set On Digital's New Array

By Calvin Sims
The New York Times

Boston -- September 9, 1987 -- The Digital Equipment Corporation introduced several aggressively priced low-end computers today that are three times more powerful than their predecessors.

Continuing its strategy of developing products faster than its competitors, Digital showed the products at its annual trade show, called Decworld, which opened here Tuesday. The nine-day show is the largest ever sponsored by a single computer company. Digital has invited more than 50,000 people to the show and has rented the Queen Elizabeth 2 and a second luxury liner, as well as the World Trade Center, to accommodate them.

Digital, based in Maynard, Mass., also introduced an enhanced networking system that allows its computers to link up with those of competitors. In addition, the company announced a new 5.25-inch disk drive with 280 megabytes of memory storage.

Higher Profits Expected

Industry analysts said that the new products, which were expected, represent a value for customers because of their competitive pricing and that the more powerful products would mean higher profits for Digital since they cost the same to produce as their predecessors.

Digital's profits have soared in recent years on the strength of the Vax family of computers, which have enabled the company to steal significant market share from the International Business Machines Corporation. In its latest fiscal year, Digital earned $1.1 billion on $9.4 billion in sales.

Digital said that it would offer two new versions of its low-end Microvax 2 computer - the models 3500 and 3600. The new computer, which industry analysts say outperforms I.B.M.'s 9370, frequently called the Vax-killer, is three times faster than the current Microvax 2 line.

'The Cadillac' of Microcomputers

''Digital has taken the price performance lead back from I.B.M. with the new Microvax,'' said Michael Geran, a computer analyst with E. F. Hutton. ''This product is the Cadillac of the microcomputer world.''

The Microvax computers, which are intended for use in small departments and work groups, provide the power of a mainframe computer in the space of a mini, Digital said.

The new computers are faster because they employ a new high-performance technology called complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor, or CMOS, developed by Digital. The Microvax systems range from $74,800 to $180,000.

This same technology is also used in Digital's two new work stations, the Vaxstation 3200 and 3500, which are 2.5 to 4.2 times faster than the Vaxstation 2000.

Digital said the new work stations are intended for computer-aided design and manufacturing, computer-aided engineering, artificial intelligence and financial applications such as securities and currency trading.

Analysts said the new work stations would allow Digital, which entered the market late, to compete more aggressively with Apollo Computer Inc. and Sun Microsystems, the industry leaders.

Increase in Performance

Until now, the Vaxstations from Digital could not compare with its competitors in processing power. With the increase in performance and a starting price of $19,900, the new Vaxstations are positioned to do well, analysts said.

Digital also announced a new version of its networking architecture that allows users to share information with and from various computers. The new link, called Digital Network Architecture (D.N.A.) Phase 5, is compatible with an emerging industry standard called Open System Interconnection, or O.S.I.

Digital, which has traditionally shown strength in network systems, said D.N.A. 5 would provide better compatibility between systems and in particular would provide users with a universal mail system.

Digital also said its new 5.25-inch disk drive was the first disk drive it had designed and manufactured.

Copyright 1987 The New York Times Company